School kids and police clash at German nuclear protest

School kids and police injured each other in an anti-nuclear demonstration in northern Germany on Thursday (8 Nov).

from 09.11.2007

(by Diet Simon)

They clashed in Lüchow, capital of the county where a highly controversial nuclear waste dump is located in the village of Gorleben, roughly equidistant between Hamburg (125 km) and Hanover (150 km).

About 500 youngsters started an authorised march peacefully which police say escalated outside their barracks in the town.

A police media release says the demonstrators broke open the closed gate to the compound and then threw eggs, fireworks and other objects at the empty building.

When the gathering was then broken up clashes occurred with kicking and bashing. Five police and two demonstrators are said to have suffered bruising.

A demonstration by school children takes place every year to protest against transportation of highly radioactive nuclear waste to Gorleben. The prefabricated concrete hall there already contains 32 times as much radiation as was released by the Chernobyl meltdown.

The release said it was police strategy “to give the students the greatest possible scope for action and to use police measures reservedly. Only when massive offences like injuring police personnel and considerably damaging property were perpetrated by demonstrators and the demonstration as a whole became unpeaceful, police had to break the assembly up.”

Police say they were surprised by the size of the demonstration and the readiness of the youths to be violent, especially as no waste is to be taken to Gorleben this year.

They say the personal data of 330 people were taken down and there would be at least 20 prosecutions for causing bodily harm, damaging property and breaches of assembly law.

Also in Gorleben recently, the environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, was blockaded by 50 demonstrators who accused him of not being accountable to the public.

Gabriel was visiting a salt mine dug specifically as a potential final repository for nuclear waste, cheek by jowl with the hall containing the 80 so-called Castor caskets waiting for a final burial.

Scientists say the Gorleben can’t be it because it’s in contact with ground water which would raise the danger of water supplies being contaminated for hundreds of kilometres around.

In Gorleben for the first time as minister, though he’s from the general area, Gabriel said there’d be an international hearing on final nuclear waste storage next (northern) autumn which would look broadly at all location issues.

Especially international scientists would be invited, Gabriel said, because most German experts had already made up their minds one way or another.

The hearing wouldn’t take place in Gorleben, he went on, because it wasn’t to be a Gorleben hearing but a final storage hearing.

Gabriel told experts gathered for his visit that he had two final nuclear dumps in his electorate, so he could understand the protests. He said dumps in Wolfenbüttel county, Morsleben near Helmstedt, Gorleben and Salzgitter were "lessons about how not to do it”.

Last year Gabriel’s ministry suggested a procedure for examining various sites for final storage which is now in hot dispute between all stakeholders. The power industry and Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats want Gorleben and nothing else.

Gabriel praised the way the Swiss are handling the issue. A representative from there, Michael Aebersold, told the gathering they had tested whether their selection procedure was workable.

He said there had been public discussion about it in five cities. The search for a site is to take 10 years and Switzerland wants to have a final repository by 2040.

"The Swedes are the furthest advanced, " said Ulrich Kleemann of Germany’s Federal Agency for Radiation Protection about the global search for storage of highly active nuclear waste. Finland had also selected sites, he said.

There is huge irony in the Swiss being held up as the exemplar. The Swiss took a lot of their approach from the suggestions of the German "AK End", a working group for seeking a final storage. Its proposals guide Gabriel.

In Japan, on the other hand, a attempt to find volunteer communities for locating a final dump failed.

Other countries are looking at long-term interim storing or “transmutation”, the conversion of one chemical element or isotope into another, in this case into harmless isotopes. “Absolutely theoretical as yet,” stresses Florian Emrich of the radiation protection agency.

Gabriel certainly didn’t score with nuclear opponents with his belated visit to Gorleben. “The environment minister keeps hiding behind his Berlin coalition partner [Merkel],” criticised the spokesman of the Gorleben resistance, Francis Althoff. He accused him of a ‘spongy’ and ‘evasive’ stance on Gorleben as final repository project.

Pictures of the visit

Bearbeitet am: 09.11.2007/ad

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